Kutztown Elementary School 2nd grader Ajax David recently delivered toys and books to the Lehigh Valley Reilly Children's Hospital.
The 7 year old organized a toy and book drive, collecting donations at the organic café HIVE and Firefly Bookstore in Kutztown. His goal was to get enough books and toys for all of the children in the hospital.
“I liked collecting the donations because we received so many, and it was exciting,” said Ajax. “I felt really good about delivering the donation because that meant almost all of the kids at the hospital would not be sad anymore. I hope it helps kids at the hospital improve their education and reading.”
He delivered three large boxes filled with toys, books, Legos, stuffed animals, crayons, coloring books, puzzles, and more.
“We were so grateful. So many people in the community came together and pitched in, and Firefly Bookstore was so generous to be a part of the fundraiser as well!” said his mother, Robyn Jasko, owner of the HIVE and Homesweet Homegrown in Kutztown. “I am grateful to be a part of such a giving community!”
Kate Booth, Manager of the Annual Fund in the Lehigh Valley Health Network Office of Philanthropy, said that the fundraisers in her office are always so happy when they see the sweet, caring hearts of children that want to help others.
“You can tell that they genuinely want to make an impact on someone’s life and we love encouraging the next generation to never lose that passion,” said Booth. “Ajax wants to make kids happy during what can certainly be a difficult and scary time for a child, and he knows the joy of a book or toy can brighten their day.”
Donations like these are important to Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital.
“They allow our child life team to help a child feel less alone and scared while they’re visiting the hospital. Whether they’re here for cancer treatment, a broken bone, or an overnight stay, these types of donations make them feel more at home,” she said.
“It’s inspiring to see kids (and their families) set out on a mission, be supported by the community and have it be so successful in the end. Ajax should be so proud of himself!” said Booth.
Every month as a family, Robyn said they donate to a charity.
“This can vary in the amount. It is really something we started doing to give back on some level on a monthly basis, and teach Ajax about the impact each person can have, even if it's just a small amount,” she said. “Sometimes, he donates the change he finds. Sometimes we donate much more.”
“It's really about teaching gratitude, kindness and perspective, and we love picking a new charity each month,” Robyn said.
In December, at his yearly checkup, his doctor heard a heart murmur and Ajax went to the Lehigh Valley Reilly Children's Hospital to get an echocardiogram to monitor and check his heart.
“Thankfully, Ajax's screening turned out to be a false alarm and his heart was in great shape,” said Robyn. “But visiting the Children's Hospital had a great impact on him.”
In January, she asked Ajax who they should all donate to and Ajax said he wanted to donate toys and books for the children at the hospital.
“I thought we should do a toy and book drive because I thought the kids might be sad because they can't play with their friends in the hospital, so that's why I wanted to give them toys and books to read and play with," said Ajax. "I like that it is providing books for kids. I like reading and wanted to help them build a library. The toys will also give them something to play with since they can't be with their friends."
“I thought it was such a great idea. I wanted to open it up to the community and show Ajax that when you have an idea, you can make it happen, and help make real change in your community,” said Robyn.
They started by making a flyer, which Ajax helped design, putting them around town, and posting it on Facebook. Then, when Firefly Bookstore in Kutztown shared it, Robyn thought they might be a great partner and asked them if they would have a collection box.
“They were so kind and immediately agreed,” said Robyn. “It was a great partnership, and I am so grateful to our bookstore! We are lucky to have them in our town, and they are so generous!”
"We are very pleased to be a part of this program, and are so impressed with Ajax's dedication,” said Firefly Bookstore co-owner Matthew Williams, offering a discount of 25% off customer purchases of items intended for the book drive.
In addition to providing toys and books for children at the hospital, Robyn hopes to teach Ajax “that if he has an idea for a fundraiser, he can make a real difference, and make it happen. And, to do something positive during our time at home during the pandemic that still brought the community together.”